GI Effects

Garlic was effective against castor oil-induced diarrhea, and relieved abdominal distension/discomfort, belching, and flatulence in 30 patients (31). Small doses of garlic are purported to increase the tone of smooth muscle in the GI tract, whereas large doses decrease such actions (1). An ethanol-chlo-roform extract of fresh bulb-antagonized acetylcholine and prostaglandin E induced rat fundus smooth muscle contraction at a concentration of 0.002 mg/mL; however, an ethanol extract of fresh garlic bulb caused rat fundus smooth muscle stimulation at a concentration of 0.016 mg/mL (31).

In vitro data shows an antibacterial effect of garlic against Helicobacter pylori (32-34); however, studies in humans with documented H. pylori infection showed no in vivo effect on H. pylori with dried garlic powder, oil, or freshly sliced cloves (35-37) and no effect of garlic oil on symptoms or grade of gastritis (35). This demonstrates the importance of in vivo data with garlic, rather than extrapolating from in vitro studies.

Animal studies in rats show a protective effect of garlic from intestinal damage from methotrexate (38,39) and 5-fluorouracil (39), but human data is not available.

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